After four years of undergrad, two years of grad school and several years of denial, I would say I’m seasoned on college life matters. As a bitter old man, slowly adjusting to my quarter-life crisis, I have come to resent quite a few things about college students and, of course, my former self.
Below is a list of five things male college students love to boast about. (For the love of God, please shut the hell up. Nobody cares!)
1. How much they drink
I cannot stand when college students boast about how much they can drink. If I have ever felt anything aside from hungover after a hard night of drinking, it is mostly feelings of regret. Rarely, if ever, is a menacing hangover worth it. I don’t care how crazy your night was, vomiting is never cool.
Of course, some of you are thinking, “Dude I don’t get hungover,” or “I don’t know how much you’re drinking, but I never puke.” Well, kudos to you, Mr. Straight Edge; I’m not talking about you.
I’m talking about the dudes who buy 30 racks of beer and memorialize it by building a pyramid of empty cans. I’m talking about the bros who peer pressure others to drink, long after everyone has had their fill.
Sadly, these guys define their masculinity through their ability to drink obscene amounts of alcohol and shun anyone who can’t keep up. Lastly, these are the guys who revel in the alcohol-induced shenanigans of a previous night, when, in reality, they acted like a group of obnoxious morons.
Here’s the best way to find out if you are one of these obnoxious morons. On a typical night, when everyone is about to get hammered, try something insane: Don’t drink. Rather, chill on some water and observe your bros.
Give it some time, and soon, you may be hit with the inescapable feeling that you are hanging out with complete idiots. It may comfort you to rise above the social norm for a night and realize how unlike your fellow bros you truly are.
However, it is true that we are the average of the five people with whom we spend the most time. So, if your bros are douche bags, it is very likely they're rubbing off on you.
Don’t get me wrong; I love to get rowdy with my friends during a competitive game of beer pong or flip cup, and I’ve always had a love affair with whiskey. However, I know my limits, and certainly, there is nothing “cool” about how much one can drink -- that is a fact.
2. How much they smoke
To be clear, I am referring purely to pot. If someone is genuinely bragging about his cigarette usage, that person is beyond saving.
Back when I was in college, there was a sickening epidemic among my fellow peers, which was rooted in the idea that smoking weed was cool, or even, a skill. Unfortunately, I felt the same way until my junior year in college when I had a small epiphany.
When I first started smoking, I would get giggly, red-eyed and hungry, but my highs eventually changed. Instead, I would get analytical, insecure and sometimes energetic. If this sounds familiar, stop smoking for a while, as it is a telltale sign you need to slow down.
One night, my roommates and I threw a house party, and we had just finished smoking when everyone started to roll in. I was stoned and intently observing everyone around me (awkward, I know), when a misguided girl admiringly asked my friend, "Do you smoke every day?"
He proudly responded, "I try to."
For some reason, this interaction blew my mind. He spoke as if smoking weed required effort, skill or persistence.
I stopped smoking for a while after that. To be clear, I don't think smoking weed is something to be proud of, but I don't necessarily believe it's something to be ashamed of, either. Ultimately, it depends on the individual.
Back when I was a pothead, I smoked weed daily; I was depressed, lonely and in a state of stagnation. I smoked to escape, but it only made things worse. I think if you're employed, exercising, getting laid (or actively trying to) and, most importantly, living a life true to yourself, you should feel free to smoke all you want.
If you're not at that point, where you’re both comfortable and seeking to personally improve, then weed serves as nothing more than a distraction.
That is, however, my personal opinion, and oddly enough, I seem to have similar thoughts about the nature of masturbation. So, maybe I’m just a maniac.
Not long ago, I expressed the above thoughts to my friend Jeff, a pothead. He responded, "Dude you need to relax," as he ripped his bong and eased back in his recliner. Perhaps I'm just jealous of his complacency.
3. Their sexual endeavors
A while back, a friend explained a foreign concept to me: his refusal to kiss and tell. At the time, this idea was otherworldly because, among male friends, it is the topic of conversation 99 percent of the time.
His rationale, which I found intriguing, was that in keeping his personal life private, no one ever knew whom he was sleeping with. The only difference is he was genuinely interested in keeping his business private.
I, on the other hand, thought this was a brilliant strategy to express to others that I was getting laid, without sounding try-hard. I thought this would be particularly useful for courting women.
Now, you might be wondering why I would want to subtlety express to a woman that I was getting laid. Quite simply, men who get laid are given an unspoken seal of approval from women.
For example, ever notice how it feels like you can seduce just about anyone when you have a girlfriend? Yet, the moment she disappears, suddenly you find yourself lost? Seal of approval. Sure, this doesn’t always hold true, especially if your sleeping with prostitutes, but the point is men with options are attractive.
Shortly after, I expressed to a girl whom I was trying to seduce that I never kiss and tell because no one ever knows whom I’m sleeping with. She laughed as she shot back: “So, is that your way of telling me you get laid a lot?”
Unfortunately, bragging about one’s sexual exploits is all too common among college students. The reason I, as well as most men, do this is because we naturally respect a man who is successful with women.
Yet, there is nothing cheesier than hearing from a dude, “Bro, I so banged that girl last night.” Not only does this make you sound like a giant tool, but it also seeks to establish a man as superior to a woman.
Interestingly, it seems that the dudes who legitimately don’t kiss and tell are the ones getting laid the most. It is a true mark of confidence when a man can constantly seduce women and be complacent with keeping that success to himself. Perhaps it is similar to those who donate to charity in an anonymous fashion.
In the end, the next time you feel the urge to discuss your sexual exploits, you may want to stop and think for a moment, “Am I just doing this to sound cool?”
If that’s the case, I’d advise seeking alternative ways to bolster your self-worth. Take it from me, as it was the foundation of my self-worth for too long, and as you might imagine, that isn’t an easy thing to sustain when you’re rarely getting laid.
4. How they never study
Shortly after I graduated from college with a 3.0 GPA, I was in a bar with acquaintances I knew from high school. Although a 3.0 wasn’t spectacular, I was proud of it because I hadn’t put any effort into “achieving” that grade. Rather, I skated by on my smarts.
Anyway, a particular acquaintance and I had somehow gotten on the topic of school work. He proudly expressed, “Dude, I never studied in college, but always pulled great grades.”
Normally, I might have agreed, as I cheered on my fellow “underachieving genius.” This time, however, I was nothing short of disturbed. What was particularly horrifying is this oaf, who later drove his car home utterly blacked out, had recited what had been my exact mantra through not only college, but also high school.
Suddenly, I wasn’t so unique. Instead, I realized that being proud of “succeeding without trying,” was a commonly shared mindset among the tragically mediocre.
The driver behind this mindset is that you are able to sustain decent grades without trying, and soon, your lack of effort becomes a source of pride. However, behind that fake pride is shame, rooted in the fact that you lacked the drive to put forth your best effort.
Unlike your fellow hardworking students, you are unique because you succeeded without working hard. So, you convince yourself you’re special because if you were capable of succeeding without trying, the possibilities would have been endless had you simply tried.
Thus, you take comfort in the idea that you are a genius with untapped potential, when in reality, you’re just someone who was too lazy to try his best. You can read more about this from an article that inspired most of these ideas.
5. Their fraternity
Two years ago, I went on Birthright, which is a trip funded by Jewish donors that sends 20 men and women to Israel for 10 days.
At the time, I had just graduated college, and I decided to go with an 18- to 22-year-old group rather than a 22- to 26-year-old group. Fortunately, the younger group was a blast, but the never-ending conversations about fraternities and, yes, sororities drove me insane.
Back when I was in college, I initially regretted my decision to not join a fraternity. It seemed like the perfect set up: a large group of friends, automatic plans every weekend and plenty of girls to meet.
However, what you come to learn about fraternities (and even sororities) as an outsider looking in, is it becomes this recycled cesspool that many grow to hate.
Unfortunately, before anyone reaches that point (and sure, some never do) one’s fraternity or sorority becomes the bane of his or her existence.
I mean, you must remember that INSANE rant from a sorority girl at the University of Maryland, right? Either way, it felt like a trip through sophomore year as I listened to my fellow Birthrighters endlessly talk about their respective fraternity or sorority.
Unfortunately, most of these conversations constituted themed parties or “mixers” that were thrown, crappy fraternity stories about sexual exploits (shocker) and other absurd traditions like rushing and pledging.
Ultimately, it can be offputting to see how students come to identify themselves not by their individuality, but through their respective fraternity or sorority.
Drinking, smoking, sex, studying and Greek life: For most college students, what else is there? In my college days, that mostly summed it up. If any of this sounds familiar, it’s probably because you and I weren’t so different.
So, next time you find yourself validating your self-worth through one of these empty tenets, stop for a moment and consider, why? For me, that was my first step towards growing up.
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